This was originally published at America Magazine last Holy Thursday:
The Twelve Apostles were sent to prepare for a supper in Jerusalem; how many times have they shared a table together with Jesus over the years, whether they actually had food or not when they had sat down to eat or had known what kind of food he would put on the table? Jesus had supplied answers to questions they never knew they had, about sinners, Gentiles, and Samaritans, but tonight seems momentous, different from all the other momentous, different nights: What questions will he answer tonight? How is this supper different than any other? Yes, it is the time of the Passover, but all the way to Jerusalem Jesus had said things about the Son of Man, who would suffer and die and rise again, and none of them had truly understood what he was saying or wanted to understand, that's what Judas said. It made no sense - Peter had tried to explain this to Jesus, but he rejected Peter’s suggestion. He had come into the city and challenged the Temple authorities, turning over tables and proclaiming this a house of God not a den of robbers. There was conflict, conflict and more conflict, questioned by Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus always bested them, but there was no joy in this for him; this was not an argument to be won, but truth to be revealed. It seemed there was only sadness that they would not ask Jesus the simple question of who he was and follow him. But you could ask that question of me, too, just watching from the sidelines.
Peter said he must be the Messiah and he thought that the meal they will have with him in the midst of this Passover time tonight would be when the plan would be outlined, when it would become clear to them each and every next step. I cannot recall the Apostle who said it, or even the exact words, but one of them said something I can still hear echo, "Every question; every question I feel he will answer tonight. I have faith that all will be revealed." What does that mean though? What will we see? Jesus has talked more about the coming Kingdom, to be prepared, to be ready for the time of the Prophets, when there will be great suffering, but then the glory of God’s reign established for all. How will all this take place? James and John said they were ready for glory, aching for glory, because they had glimpsed it already.
There are Twelve of them, but there are many others who are with them. All of the women who have followed and supported Jesus are here too, plus those other disciples, and even me, with many others who cheered when he entered Jerusalem a couple of days ago, off to the side, unsure of what to do: should I have faith? I don’t know, but I am unable to pull myself completely away from the face of this one who draws me near. We are all waiting on him and waiting on those who will share this meal with him. What’s next? What will happen?
The Apostles all seem filled with excitement, but it is more than excitement. There is anticipation, but, I hate to say it, I sense fear and concern, tension. The Apostles’ faces are not all one. It is not as if there is no faith, but they do not know or understand completely. They, too, must simply wait for the answers with the rest of us. They know more, they know him better, but sometimes I feel that they think they know it all or nothing at all, just like me. I hope we can all wait for him to make it clear what exactly he will do and what he will establish this night and these days to come in Jerusalem. I do believe this, though, that it will be like nothing which came before and we will all be asked to make some hard decisions. I suppose the Apostles will all stand the test, but can I?
John W. Martens
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